To the Editor:
“What’s Next in the Law? The Unalienable Rights of Chimps,” by Adam Cohen (Editorial Observer, July 14), unfairly characterized PETA’s efforts.
Few people know the depth of our work, as it is mostly our stunts that make the news. While cruelty to animals is a serious matter that should elicit widespread public outrage, efforts to reach the public through more serious means often fall on deaf ears in a world in which sex sells and there are both a war and an economic downturn.
By comparing the common mind-set that has produced both the past injustices against humans and the current abuses of animals, we can and do inspire debate and convince many people that it is a human obligation to speak out against injustice to all beings.
Animal suffering and human suffering are undeniably interconnected. In 2004, for example, The New York Times broke the story about a PETA undercover investigation that found routine animal abuse at AgriProcessors kosher slaughterhouse. Since then, the paper has repeatedly reported on the abuse of migrant workers at AgriProcessors. It should come as no surprise that a facility that profits from tormenting and killing animals would also oppress and abuse humans.
Those of us who have worked in the field as social service staff members or humane law enforcement officers know that child abuse and animal abuse as well as battered women and battered companion animals are often found under the same roof.
Forgive us our bikinis and our shock tactics, but our message that all beings—both human and nonhuman—deserve compassion and respect is one that we must work hard to make heard.
Ingrid E. Newkirk
President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Va., July 15, 2008